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May 23: Concerts in Bismarck

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Today we take a look back on past concerts in Bismarck. Perhaps you will remember some, or be surprised at who performed in the capital city!

Baritone singer Nelson Eddy appeared in 1934 at the City Auditorium. At the time he was at the start of his Hollywood film career. Coming to Bismarck after a concert in New York City, he asked reporters what his Bismarck audience would like. Eddy’s repertoire included works by Johann Sebastian Bach, George Frideric Handel, Hugo Wolf and other composers. He was accompanied on piano, and gave several encores. The audience gave Eddy “the heartiest ovation,” according to The Bismarck Tribune.

In 1942, contralto Marian Anderson appeared at the auditorium – a concert the Tribune called “the greatest artistic triumph scored in Bismarck in many years.” Her concert came three years after her famous performance for 75,000 people from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., after the Daughters of the American Revolution had refused to allow her to sing at DAR Constitution Hall because she was Black.

Her Bismarck concert for 1,100 people included “The Crucifixion,” “Ave Maria,” and “Songs My Mother Taught Me.” Anderson ended her performance by inviting the audience to sing along for the first verse of the National Anthem. After the concert, she signed autographs backstage.

On this date in 1975, The Guess Who performed at the Bismarck Civic Center. In a concert preview, the Bismarck Tribune noted the rock band’s success with its songs “American Woman” and “These Eyes.” But the concert might have been more memorable for the young man later convicted at trial for attempting to incite a riot! He was accused of yelling obscenities at police, refusing to sit down and be quiet, and attempting to strike an officer, after police cracked down on concertgoers who were throwing frisbees. A judge fined the man $150.

Artists who performed multiple times in Bismarck include Tammy Wynette, Barbara Mandrell, the Statler Brothers, and Kiss, to name just a few.

Dakota Datebook by Jack Dura


  • The Bismarck Tribune. 1934, February 22. Page 2: Nelson Eddy
  • The Bismarck Tribune. 1934, February 23. Page 5: Baritone conducts his own interview
  • The Bismarck Tribune. 1934, February 24. Page 7: Nelson Eddy gives program of songs on artist series
  • The Bismarck Tribune. 1942, April 28. Pages 1, 3: Voice, showmanship combined make Marian Anderson concert smash hit
  • The Bismarck Tribune. 1942, April 28. Page 3: Marian Anderson already practicing songs for summer tour and 1943 concert program
  • Steele County Press. 1964, August 6. Page 5: Stage revue and hop
  • The Bismarck Tribune. 1975, May 22. Page 10: ‘Guess Who’ to appear here Friday
  • The Bismarck Tribune. 1975, May 24. Page 5: 6 youths arrested at music concert
  • The Bismarck Tribune. 1975, May 27. Page 22: Local man charged with inciting riot at rock concert
  • The Bismarck Tribune. 1975, June 25. Page 16: Bismarcker ruled guilty in riot attempt case
  • The Bismarck Tribune. 1977, May 20. Page 10: ‘The country superstar explosion
  • The Bismarck Tribune. 1978, October 14. Page 36: Tammy shows ‘truest grit’ at rodeo gig
  • The Bismarck Tribune. 1979, September 21. Page 1: True troupers
  • The Bismarck Tribune. 1982, December 30. Page 9: Rock group plays to smaller crowd
  • The Bismarck Tribune. 1983, May 1. Page 5B: Mandrell returns to Bismarck
  • The Bismarck Tribune. 1985, February 22. Page 2: Rock’s former ‘mystery’ band sets March 11 Bismarck concert
  • The Bismarck Tribune. 1985, March 12. Page 1: Dangerous situation possibly created by theft of explosives 

Dakota Datebook is made in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, and funded by Humanities North Dakota, a nonprofit, independent state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the program do not necessarily reflect those of Humanities North Dakota or the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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